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Reports this week about former Defense Secretary Robert Gates' new book have implied that he thinks President Obama approved a 2009 troop surge in Afghanistan believing the strategy would fail. But Gates tells NPR that's not right. He believes Obama became skeptical about the "troop surge" later on.

The unemployment rate is the lowest it's been since late 2008, but the labor force has shrunk. That could be a sign that many Americans still think there just aren't that many job openings out there.

On the 10th anniversary of Spalding Gray's disappearance, his widow and stepdaughter remember the writer and monologist — and the difference he made in their lives.

Last year, illustrator Maria Fabrizio was having a slow day at work, so she drew a picture of the pope "hanging up his hat." The idea caught on, and now she creates a news-inspired image every day on her Wordless News blog. Next week, all of her pictures will be inspired by Morning Edition.

A drop in the numbers of fierce beasts worldwide might seem like good news for deer and antelope. But expanding herds of grass-eaters leave stream banks naked and vulnerable to erosion, and can even change the stream's course, according to scientists calling for more protection of large predators.

Germany is one of the few EU countries that has welcomed Syrians fleeing civil war. But it offers refuge only to a few thousand out of the millions who need it. And it actually deported Syrian asylum seekers last year, due to treaty requirements. Still, Syrians are risking their lives to get there.

Pennsylvania is the fastest-growing state for natural gas production, but the development is cutting through swathes of previously unbroken forests. Some scientists say this could affect wildlife, which perform important functions like climate and insect control.

The former New Jersey poet laureate, born LeRoi Jones, died on Thursday at the age of 79. Much of his work — including well-regarded poetry and plays — reflected his commitment to Black Nationalist ideals. He co-founded the Black Arts movement, and wrote poems that were as controversial as they were influential.

The snowpack in the Mountain West is at just a small fraction of its normal level, and it was the driest year ever recorded in many parts of California. Cloud seeders are trying to squeeze raindrops out of Mother Nature by spraying tiny silver iodide particles into incoming clouds.

In the wake of revelations about the National Security Agency's surveillance programs, there have been calls for changes in oversight of the agency. The outgoing deputy director tells NPR that the NSA believes some of those suggestions can be implemented.

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